Used 2003 Ford Focus Hatchback

2003 Ford Focus
List price range


  • Thoughtful ergonomics, large interior, smooth ride, sharp steering, impressive selection of body configurations and features.


  • Seats aren't comfortable for everyone, below-average reliability.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2003 Ford Focus is a wonderful small car that's fun to drive, frugal with fuel and offered in such a wide variety of configurations it would be hard not to find one that suits your needs.

vehicle overview

"Smart design and spirited driving" were the guiding forces behind the development of the Focus. It debuted in 2000 with "New Edge" styling, a roomy interior and excellent road manners. These qualities, plus a wide variety of configurations, have made the Focus the best small car from a domestic manufacturer. It falls behind the Civic and Corolla in terms of refinement and reliability, but the 2003 Ford Focus is still worth considering for a fun and functional small car.

trim levels & features

The 2003 Ford Focus is available in four body styles: a three-door ZX3 hatchback, a five-door ZX5 hatchback, a sedan and a wagon. The sedan can be ordered in one of three trim levels, starting with the base LX model and going up to the midlevel SE and highline ZTS trim. Wagons are available in SE or ZTW trim. The ZX3 can be had in base, premium or power premium trim, while the ZX5 allows for the choice between base, comfort and premium models. There's also the high-performance SVT Focus, which is based on the ZX3.

performance & mpg

The base drivetrain for LX models is a 2.0-liter 110-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. This same drivetrain is standard in SE sedans, but ZTS sedans, along with wagons and hatchbacks, get a more powerful 130-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. A four-speed automatic is optional. Both engines provide adequate power, though the higher-output motor is the clear choice for enthusiasts. Still not enough? Then maybe you should consider the SVT Focus. Based on the ZX3, this hot hatch puts out 170 horsepower and is equipped with an exclusive six-speed manual transmission. The SVT Focus also comes with 17-inch wheels, oversize four-wheel disc brakes and a sport-tuned suspension to keep it glued to the road.


For safety, the Focus has ABS, traction control and stability control as optional equipment. NHTSA crash test scores for the ZX3 are good with the car earning four stars in frontal impacts and front side-impacts. The rear side-impact test, however, resulted in a very poor one-star rating for the ZX3. However, the ZX5 and wagon also scored four stars for rear side impacts. In frontal offset testing (conducted by the IIHS), the Focus has earned a "Good" score.


Regardless of trim, the 2003 Ford Focus offers a smooth ride quality and above-average handling ability. The four-wheel fully independent suspension allows for noticeable body roll while cornering, but the Focus stays planted and inspires confidence. The steering system is surprisingly quick, fluid and responsive, always providing plenty of feedback from the road surface. Our experience with our long-term ZX3 has proven to be more than satisfactory, and the SVT Focus, with its aftermarket-sounding exhaust, short-throw shifter and optional audiophile sound system has proven to be our favorite sport compact hatchback.


The Focus is roomy for its class, offering generous accommodations for its front and rear passengers. Inside you'll find plenty of headroom. Some options usually not found in this segment include an in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 player and a stability control system. Some may find the asymmetrical dash layout odd, but the well-dampened controls and correct ergonomic placement should forgive any faults.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Ford Focus.

More fun than expected
driven1320, 3/9/2013
I knew what I wanted initially: a small hatchback with good mpg and a manual trans. However, I never expected to like it this much. The old saying that its more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow... this car nails it. Driving around town I find this car more satisfying than my 400hp Mustang. Its reasonably peppy, doesn't have to be revved, and with the addition of a stiffer rear swaybar, the handling is a blast. Tons of room too. On one trip I managed 3 people and a 50" tv. On another, a full dresser. It's got 140k miles on it, so a few things are starting to go, but I'd say its held up incredibly well. Couldn't be happier with my purchase!
Whatta Steal w/the Special 2.3L Engine
wnyfordguy, 1/14/2011
Bought this used on 3/31/09 w/58k miles for my eldest son to commute to college. I got it cheap after previous owner bought it damaged the prior fall - it was in a front-end collision; he did most of the repairs himself. Regardless, this car is solid! It's amazingly quick for a 4-banger. That's because it was sold in NY, so it has the 2.3L Duratec PZEV engine that produces 145 HP, as opposed to the weaker 2.0L engines that came with most 03 MY 'Foci'. Around the town gas mileage is OK-to-Very Good (21-24 MPG), but it's great on highway trips (up to 29 MPG). Also, it's very comfortable and fun/different to drive - maybe that's what others refer to as this car's "European" feel.
Focus owner
dreed, 12/11/2009
I bought this affordable car brand new and put 86k miles on it. It really is a great, efficient vehicle but I started encountering problems around 60k. miles. Great car but not extremely reliable after 80k miles.
7 yr review: a reliable car overall
randy, 9/20/2010
Just reaching the 140,000 mile mark, car has been very dependable and easy to maintain, and much MUCH cheaper to maintain than the 99 Civic i had before. My Focus has been used as a commuter car, sees a mix of highway and city miles and all four seasons (cold brutal winters) Had a few minor problems along the way, but it never left me stranded or cost a fortune to fix. I would recommend this car, it would be a great vehicle for a student because its reliable and economical.
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Features & Specs

22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
See all Used 2003 Ford Focus Hatchback features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger1 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested

More about the 2003 Ford Focus
Used 2003 Ford Focus Hatchback Overview

The Used 2003 Ford Focus Hatchback is offered in the following styles: ZX3 Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX5 Premium 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX3 Power Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX3 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX5 Comfort 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX5 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SVT 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M).

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